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High Tech Elder Care May Be Mixed Blessing

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the there's-an-app-for-that dept.

Medicine 96

Hugh Pickens writes "Gerontologists say 'aging in place' vastly improves the quality of life for seniors, and is a lot cheaper for society than group homes and institutions. The trick is to do so without jeopardizing the health and safety of older people, which is why 480 people are taking part in pilot programs in Portland, Oregon that outfit homes with technology so elderly people can be monitored for illness or infirmity. With the first wave of baby boomers turning 65 this year, corporations such as Intel see lucrative new business opportunities tending to a generation of people accustomed to doing things their own way. As part of a test, Dorothy Rutherford's two-bedroom condominium has been outfitted with an array of electronic monitoring gear that might eventually find its way to retail shelves. Motion sensors along hallways and ceilings record her gait and walking speed. A monitor on her back door observes when she leaves the house, and another one on the refrigerator keeps tabs on how often she's eating. A special bed laced with sensors can assess breathing patterns, heart rate and general sleep quality, a pill box fitted with electronic switches records when medication is taken, and a Wii video game system has been rejiggered so that players stand on a platform that measures their weight and balance. But there is the downside, as some experts on the aging population worry that making it easier for elderly people to stay in their homes could reduce the incentive for children to visit or could create a false sense that technology can foresee every problem and address every need."

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96 comments

Vast improvement (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36490480)

The average life expectancy of someone in a nursing home is 2 - 3 years. This could be a huge leap forward in increasing the quality of life for the elderly, and I look forward to the tech that will be in place when I'm that old.

Re:Vast improvement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36490534)

The average life expectancy of someone in a nursing home is 2 - 3 years. This could be a huge leap forward in increasing the quality of life for the elderly, and I look forward to the tech that will be in place when I'm that old.

Well, then make sure you save up the money to pay for it!

FTFA:

Neither Medicaid nor most private insurance policies cover these expenses, said Dr. Jeffrey Kaye, director of the Oregon aging and tech lab.

As far as Medicare paying for it, who knows, but considering the budgetary problems and everything, it's probably not going to happen.

All this whiz bang tech is great and everything but it's extremely expensive and here's why:

With the first wave of baby boomers turning 65 this year, corporations such as Intel see lucrative new business opportunities tending to a generation of people accustomed to doing things their own way.

Yeah baby! $$$$$$$

Re:Vast improvement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36490568)

Breaking news, things cost money!

Boomers destroyed the economy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36490684)

The Boomers are quite an interesting bunch. On one hand, their births help result in the significant post-war boom during the 1950s and 1960s, but since that time they've been responsible for much of the economic destruction we've seen over the past few decades.

By the mid-to-late 1970s, the earliest Boomers started to get into power in businesses and government. Instead of promoting sensible business and economic policies, they focused on short-sighted short-term "goals" that have been absolutely disastrous. Most of the 1980s were spent promoting "free trade" with third-world nations. This was solidly in place by the early 1990s. These agreements rapidly destroyed virtually all North American manufacturing during the rest of the 1990s and the early 2000s. We've spent the last 10 years or so witnessing the utter destruction of what were once the world's most powerful and effective economies.

Those of us born before or after them should not feel responsible for them in any way. We should not support them financially. They collectively ruined the economic prospects of many future generations. In retirement, they should share in the miserable future they're created for at least their children, grandchildren, and greatgrandchildren.

Re:Boomers destroyed the economy. (1)

arielCo (995647) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490972)

Hate much? Surely you won't mind being remembered as "the generation that brought on the War on Terror, wasting the lives of thousands of young Americans and thus bringing grief on their homes, all while throwing valuable resources into a futile war to deepen the pockets of contractors and arms manufacturers", and being held personally accountable for those events. Because of course it was YOU who did it.

Re:Boomers destroyed the economy. (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#36491358)

boomers did that too, this gen was the ones being sent off to fight the wrong country

Re:Boomers destroyed the economy. (1)

arielCo (995647) | more than 2 years ago | (#36491392)

BTW, the "Terms and exclusions" clause of my signature is there exactly for cases like this.

Re:Boomers destroyed the economy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36491488)

With the first wave of baby boomers turning 65 this year...

George W. Bush: born July 6th, 1946. Happy 65th next month, Mr. Guy-Who-Brought-Us-The-War-On-Terror!

Re:Vast improvement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36490608)

Yeah, that's what they thought too, that the technology will be advanced enough to make their lives easier. You can expect it too, but it won't happen. People go to nursing homes, because they're unable to take care of themselves, when that's the case, usually death is near, whether at home, in a hospital or a nursing home.

You could ease the burden of ageing by improving living and working standards. Someone who works 10 hours a day will barely reach that stage, and at 65 they'll practically be complete wrecks.

The irritating part of all this, the main goals is to reduce costs, not improve lives or reduce the need for qualified personnel.

With all that in mind, for us, the current working generations the only options are making shit loads of money to see us through those years or making assisted suicide legal, now that we can still change something.

Re:Vast improvement (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36490662)

Now, you're on to something.

The irritating part of all this, the main goals is to reduce costs, not improve lives or reduce the need for qualified personnel.

I agree and disagree: we have to reduce costs. We have to ask ourselves if keeping grandpa alive for another week (unconscious or in sever pain or zonked out of his gourd ) is really benefiting him. We need to get away from the idea that any extension of life at all cost is worth it. We live and we die - we as a society need to accept that.

As far as reducing costs - how about the medical suppliers lesson their margins? They use the excuse that government regulations and litigation makes them charge so much, but it's an exaggeration. They pass the cost of all that and a few hundred percent markup - I've been there, I've seen it.

If you follow the money of the folks who lobby against any Government health care you always end up with the insurance, drug and medical supply companies. Isn't that interesting?

The way to deal with all this is to have medical costs much more transparent. For any medical treatment, procedure or anything, just try to get a price. You can't. Medical prices are so obfuscated, people just don't have any idea what things really cost and therefore, they have this cost is no object mentality.

I for one do NOT want to burden my family with a long drawn out illness - financially or emotionally.

Re:Vast improvement (4, Insightful)

nido (102070) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490986)

We have to ask ourselves if keeping grandpa alive for another week (unconscious or in sever pain or zonked out of his gourd ) is really benefiting him.

My one grandfather got a pacemaker/defibrillator circa 2003. It had a defective battery, and his cardiologist replaced it circa 2007.

Grandma passed away in 2005, and by 2007 Grandpa was mostly ready to go himself. But his Cardiologist saw "low battery", Medicare and United Healthcare were covering the $50k for the replacement pacemaker, and by that point Grandpa was just along for the ride.

He went anemic ~2 weeks after the replacement surgery. I took him to the hospital, where they found a bleeding tumor in his stomach. He started hospice care later that week, and lived for another 2 years (hospice care was good to Grandpa - we think he liked the attention).

Medical prices are so obfuscated, people just don't have any idea what things really cost and therefore, they have this cost is no object mentality.

I think it's more, "if someone else is paying, why should I care what it costs?"

Re:Vast improvement (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#36492250)

We have to ask ourselves if keeping grandpa alive for another week (unconscious or in sever pain or zonked out of his gourd ) is really benefiting him.

No, you need to figure out if someone in the family is still cashing his Social Security check every month. A surprisingly large number of people who are still in the "receive maximal attempts at sustenance of life" category despite having essentially zero quality of life fall under that.

Re:Vast improvement (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#36496110)

"We have to ask ourselves if keeping grandpa alive for another week (unconscious or in sever pain or zonked out of his gourd ) is really benefiting him. We need to get away from the idea that any extension of life at all cost is worth it. "

And who decides? The relatives, who stand to receive the house, the car, and all the money that grandpa is currently "wasting" by staying alive? The doctors, who want to keep beds full so they can keep making $$$ and dead patients pay $0? The courts and lawyers, who will squabble for years all while racking up court costs and attorney's fees?

And at what age is the cut-off? Grandpa's 60, should he get a 250k heart? What about 70? 80? But 98 yr old grandpa just finished a marathon, he's got many years left in him! [wikipedia.org]

Legal suicide is always bad. Whose to say you really wanted to die after you're dead? And how can grandpa consent when he has alzheimers or dementia? It's really bad when grandpa's 70 and gets alzheimers because you know he could live another 20+ years. I work in medicine and you'd be surprised how many times I saw relatives that were tired of grandpa and wanted him gone.

Re:Vast improvement (1)

jte (707188) | about 2 years ago | (#36502536)

The average life expectancy of someone in a nursing home is 2 - 3 years. This could be a huge leap forward in increasing the quality of life for the elderly, and I look forward to the tech that will be in place when I'm that old.

In that case, LE in the nursing home will decrease further, as the level of monitoring and direct care in the home improves and nursing homes become more for end-of-life care - care that still won't be provided in the home.

That's all they could come up with? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36490490)

...could reduce the incentive for children to visit or could create a false sense that technology can foresee every problem and address every need.

Seriously?
The first one makes no sense and the second is, you know, obvious.

Maybe those "experts" should retire, they may be getting as old as the people they are studying.

Re:That's all they could come up with? (2)

hsmyers (142611) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490514)

The second is already true as well as obvious. The first is a stretch on the second in that kids who don't really give a damn in the first place may use the existence of such tech as an excuse to skip checking up on the old folks at home. Truth of the matter is that either the kids care or they don't---such additions to the scene won't make much of a difference. Frankly, when the time came I was much more comfortable visiting my mother at home in surroundings that we were both 'comfortable' in; so anything that contributes to that would be a good thing in my experience.

Re:That's all they could come up with? (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#36492290)

Indeed, for anyone who would use "the technology cares for you" as an excuse not to come, "the people working in your retirement home are caring for you" is an even better excuse. Especially if they can add "and you have also so many other people living there to talk to."

In other words... (1)

Waccoon (1186667) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490500)

Technology might make people lazy. What else is new?

We'll cope, so long as we do something about the lawsuits. I'm wondering if the liability factor might make this technology just as expensive as a group home.

Re:In other words... (1)

arielCo (995647) | more than 2 years ago | (#36491030)

Technology might make people lazy. What else is new?

Wait till you're 70+. Your definitions of laziness might shift a bit.

We'll cope, so long as we do something about the lawsuits. I'm wondering if the liability factor might make this technology just as expensive as a group home.

Now you're talking. Since the first time I saw what was being done in Japan with robots, exoskeletons etc. I've been thinking "what would happen if one eventually malfunctions and drops an old lady?". OMG ROBOTS HURT OLD PEOPLE! Anyone *thinking* of implementing this has thought of that, but so did manufacturers of mobility devices or *any* medical equipment, with the ensuing insurance costs. Is a broken hip more scandalous because a weird exoskeleton failed instead of a walker?

For socialized medicine! (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490510)

Workers, take the power! Cut out the profiteering insurance and pharma/tech capitalists! For free, quality universal healthcare for all, including free abortions on demand! For a workers party that fights for a workers government! Break with the Democrats and all capitalist parties!

OLD FOLKS HOME !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36490522)

Death row for old folks !! Come on, you know it is !! Put your remaining parent in one of those, and they never come out, except in a body bag !! Be glad you weren't given the same treatment at after birth !!

Rubbish (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36490530)

or could create a false sense that technology can foresee every problem and address every need."

This makes about as much sense as the assertion that seatbelts are dangerous because they encourage people to drive recklessly.

I see the golden lining (4, Insightful)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490546)

GE and Intel are lining up for a big suck on the elder care teat. It's nice that some monitor in some remote location will beep when they have a problem - but by the time they get the message, and get a medical team on site (from Wyoming?) it's going to be a bit on the "too late" side. Letting the old folks live out their lives and die at home is a good thing; they'll enjoy a better quality of life and they won't be stuck with crippling medical bills. But I'm having a little trouble figuring out how a few dozen kilobucks worth of GE and Intel stuff is going to do anything to improve their lives. The only winners here are the corporations - with luck, they can get federal healthcare funds to pay for all of it (at properly inflated prices).

Re:I see the golden lining (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490630)

they'll enjoy a better quality of life

Oddly enough I only see physical health gadgets. No gadgets for mental health at all. You'd think they could have made even a simple token gesture attempt. Perhaps the stereotypical video conferencing solution, or digital picture frames of the grand kids, or something, something at all.

they won't be stuck with crippling medical bills.

These corporations are not doing work out of the goodness of their heart, in the style of from each according to their ability and to each according to their need. The whole point of this technological exercise is a DIFFERENT group will be delivering the crippling medical bills, instead of the current group. Is this group any better? Eh, probably, more or less. The good news they aren't getting the negative personal interactions and experiences of a nursing home for awhile longer. The bad news is their only personal interaction now seems to be a Wii-based bathroom scale.

Re:I see the golden lining (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490890)

These corporations are not doing work out of the goodness of their heart, in the style of from each according to their ability and to each according to their need. The whole point of this technological exercise is a DIFFERENT group will be delivering the crippling medical bills, instead of the current group.

Mark my words, they are planning for a government program which will deliver the money directly into their coffers. We ARE talking about GE here.

Re:I see the golden lining (2)

Manatra (948767) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490920)

There is a lot of research going into mental health gadgets as well. It's just that they're a bit tougher to make since they involve a lot of stuff related to machine learning and artificial intelligence. One of my Professor's at the University of Waterloo has been working on a system using off the shelf parts to help Alzheimer's sufferers be more independent in their home and thus help lessen the burden that typically falls on their children to care after them. I'm talking things such as reminding a sufferer a step in the hand washing process if they forget it. Of course, everyone has different patterns and has varying levels of "annoyance" thresholds, etc. which makes fine tuning the system hard, hence the machine learning part.

You can check out some of his work here: http://www.cs.uwaterloo.ca/~jhoey/research/coach/index.php [uwaterloo.ca]

Re:I see the golden lining (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#36491234)

Oddly enough I only see physical health gadgets. No gadgets for mental health at all.

I guess that would be Facebook. Seniors have special physical needs, but I don't think their social needs are much different than anybody else.

Re:I see the golden lining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36491288)

One very successful gadget is a regular phone. Try it more often with your elderly family members. There are also video phones sold retail and are easy enough for anybody to use. So why conspiracy theories? It feels it will be good to integrate audio/video conferencing with such apps and I have no doubt it will be done. With plenty of proprietary and open source apps in this field it won't take long.

Most corporations care mostly about their bottom line but it doesn't mean they don't offer valuable services at reasonable cost. Several hundred bucks a month is plenty to have hefty profit for a technological solution and it's way less than costs of having a person in a nursing home.

Re:I see the golden lining (1)

azimir (316998) | about 2 years ago | (#36501652)

" Oddly enough I only see physical health gadgets. No gadgets for mental health at all. You'd think they could have made even a simple token gesture attempt. Perhaps the stereotypical video conferencing solution, or digital picture frames of the grand kids, or something, something at all."

FTA: "Rutherford is playing the word jumble game. The results of the game, as well as typos and even the intervals between keystrokes, are monitored for abnormalities that could foreshadow physical or mental infirmity."

"A few months ago, the former waitress even tested a robot with a Skype-like video monitor that lets faraway relatives check on loved ones."

They're doing some mental health work. OHSU is a teaching hospital and research facility so they're aware of all health aspects.

Every smart home research group has their own focus and interests. OHSU's BME group does a wide range and they're a very strong stable of researchers, but they still have to pick their battles. I spent a couple minutes trying to track down some of the video picture frames used in other projects, but I didn't find the really good ones that do conferencing with additional activity detection and status information.

What's almost more important:

"Neither Medicaid nor most private insurance policies cover these expenses"

-- This insurance issue is actually a serious sticking point in smart home tech development right now. Only a couple of states actually recognize it and have required the insurance companies to pay for preventative/monitoring tech.

Re:I see the golden lining (1)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490698)

bad mouthing?

corporations such as Intel see lucrative new business opportunities tending to a generation of people accustomed to doing things their own way.

what people is not used to doing things their own? Why is it better to send people away to a place that is not home, and what is it bad developing tools to control habits.

But I'm with you, this doesn't seem as preventive, but forensic or informative. You can keep trak of schedules though. Such as "why the shower sensor hasn't been triggered" or "why is it running for so long", or "why the kitchen hasn't been visited, and the doors haven't been opened". I think it's is still a goo way to keep track of people that lives by themselves, no matter their age.

Re:I see the golden lining (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490726)

>>>But I'm having a little trouble figuring out how a few dozen kilobucks worth of GE and Intel stuff is going to do anything to improve their lives.

You can stop your kids from nagging you to move to a nursing home. "Look you little brat. I bought this heart monitor. As soon as I have an attack, it will call 911, plus shock me back to life, so stop bugging me. So stop worrying about me."

I would sooner die a year or two earlier in my OWN home, then live longer in an elder home. I have the right to make that decision, and if technology can help me do that, even better.

BTW what's wrong with living by yourself?
I do that now.
Don't see the difference if I do it when I'm old.

Re:I see the golden lining (4, Interesting)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490798)

Most of the elderly have a problem with their kids not visiting them nearly enough, and their mental health suffering greatly from loneliness as a result. I would know, I worked in elder care on a summer job and being the only guy I actually didn't have to wash/take care of person hygiene of anyone in spite of that being one of the main tasks.

Know why? Because I was the only young guy who applied and got the job, and my main job consisted of just going to old men's places and talking to them or doing some heavy lifting for them. Frankly, I think that's also what put a lot of thing in perspective for me back then - I was a young kid, and seeing just how lonely these people were on a personal level taught me to really appreciate my own life. Because when it was pretty damn obvious that for those months I worked there, the person's high point of the day was my 15-minute visit to deliver him the newspaper and food, and chat him up to see how things are makes you really appreciate how good your own life is even in the angsty late teen period.

Sometimes I think that maybe a mandatory service for all youth a la conscription to work at a elderly care for a few months or a year would be a good thing, and not just for the system.

Re:I see the golden lining (5, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#36491372)

One problem with our society is that we build our relationships around work.
Once we retire, the work friendships disappear, and people are left with nothing. Back during the agrarian age, our friendships were mostly local neighbors who were always present right upto death.

Re:I see the golden lining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36492628)

Mod parent up. This is the first thing I thought of when I started reading the summary. People will go crazy (literally) from isolation. This is absolutely the wrong thing to do.

Re:I see the golden lining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36493996)

The kind of people who get lonely - extroverts - dominated the society their whole lives until they became boring to all their fellow extroverts. Fuck them. Let the extroverts experience the same discomfort they forced introverts to feel as they herded them into mass schools and workplaces, with the threat of destitution if they didn't put up with the chattering hordes of meatbags all around them.

Re:I see the golden lining (1)

Finite9 (757961) | about 2 years ago | (#36497884)

I agree. I've had a few relatives in homes, and think it's demeaning how they are generally treat, and just plain tragic that the last few years of a persons life should be spent like that. I wish that politicians especially were made to spend time in elderly homes, maybe then there would be some real changes to how the elderly system works.

Re:I see the golden lining (1)

badkarmadayaccount (1346167) | about 2 years ago | (#36502916)

Funny, my high point of the day is when I get a not-so-motherly hug and/or kiss from one of the better looking teachers at my high school. And usually the total interaction is 15 seconds or less (keep it down with the jokes, please?). It's not that I don't have friends, or that they are not diverse. It's just that lack of a life partner at my point of mental development is screwing me up more ways than I can count. I'm 17, mental age - about mid 30ies - I believe I speak for both age groups when I say - cut it out with the age discrimination, it sucks both ways.

Re:I see the golden lining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36491054)

The real beneficiaries for this type of solution are the elder person's family. They get "piece of mind" without having to visit or call every day.

Re:I see the golden lining (1)

katyngate (1800438) | more than 2 years ago | (#36492130)

Letting the old folks live out their lives and die at home is a good thing; they'll enjoy a better quality of life and they won't be stuck with crippling medical bills.

But I'm having a little trouble figuring out how a few dozen kilobucks worth of GE and Intel stuff is going to do anything to improve their lives.

Did you even read what you wrote?

Re:I see the golden lining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36495164)

To me it seems like the optimum is a hybrid between nursing home and independent living - my grandmother moved from the house she'd lived in for ~65 years to a retirement community that had housekeeping once a week and daily dinners served restaurant style (they even dressed up for dinner). All apartments had emergency pulls in the bathroom (and bedroom?). She had a much more social existence after moving there than the preceding 15 years.

I want more accurate glucose monitoring (4, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490570)

My mother has been diabetic for thirty plus years. Currently she uses a pump which has a sensor system which can partially measure her glucose level. It is not terribly accurate and has to be calibrated a lot. She is still required to test her blood sugar levels a few times a day as she is NOT allowed to rely on the sensor readings for accuracy. If she gets very low at night it beeps then eventually vibrates. So it can at least determine relative levels of glucose and report the direction its going but they are not convenient. The sensor has to be changed every three days (they are not cheap) and there is a decent failure rate.

So what am I getting at. I like the direction this is going and I do not believe it will make a nation of shut ins or have families feel as if they can ignore their elders. If they are going to ignore their elders (parents) then they will regardless of what technology does. If anything this might help keep them in contact more often because like the article states you can be told if mom took her medicine, if she is eating regularly. I would not mind a monitoring system which could alert on emergencies because that is the real point of all this monitoring - we cannot be there 24x7 but machines can.

I would certainly be willing to pay for monitoring of my parents health so that emergency persons can be sent when the need arises. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is not something you can recover from unless you catch it quickly. My mother can stay conscious with blood sugar levels in the 40s but when it gets below 60 she acts "silly drunk" and may not realize the trouble she is in. At the same time 500+ in her can be fine but it should be noted because in diabetes one common thing I have found is far too many doctors don't agree on causes or when something is a problem, let alone how to always fix it.

More monitoring options will add more years of good living. Now this opens up the next problem, paying for all these years. For some of us giving up the little things won't be hard for the big things in life.

Re:I want more accurate glucose monitoring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36491732)

This can be done via LED sensors. most hospitals now have an O2 blood saturation monitoring finger clip.

This is a much smaller molecule than glucose, so it is only logical that glucose could be isolated (other sugars are not as important, since all vital sugars except glucose for some reason, can be synthesized).
Instead of a needle, a band could be worn, giving real time monitoring.

BUT, why should current healthcare companies BOTHER to develop this? Its not like people buying the current tech can stop buying, so there is ZERO incentive to for any drug/health co to make something better.

but look at the website with the article

"The survey said 34 percent didn't know if their parents had a safe deposit box or where the key was, and 36 percent did not know where their parents kept their financial information, USA Today said.

There was no mention of margin of error or when the survey was conducted."

strange, i copied ONLY, yet when i pasted, it inserted the http address, how that was in the MIDDLE of the article is anyone's guess.

OH, and this on a site that advertises 24 dollar ipads.. Guess the problem of expensive computers is solved, just strap a bunch of 24 dollar ipads onto our aging population and be done with it

Re:I want more accurate glucose monitoring (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 2 years ago | (#36491864)

This is a much smaller molecule than glucose, so it is only logical that glucose could be isolated (other sugars are not as important, since all vital sugars except glucose for some reason, can be synthesized).

Next time read even a wikipedia article before spouting wrong and worthless bullshit. It'll make everyone's life easier.

Pulse oximeters measure the relative ratio between hemoglobin that is bound to an oxygen molecule and hemoglobin that is not bound to an oxygen molecule. It doesn't measure the amount of hemoglobin much less the amount of oxygen. Measuring the actual amount of anything would require correcting perfectly for all other sources of absorption in real time which is likely near impossible.

Christ, you conspiracy nuts really are the dumbest life forms on this planet.

The problem... (2)

frozentier (1542099) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490572)

The problem isn't that workers don't know the patients are sick. That's why a person is in a nursing home in the first place, because they have something wrong with them that makes it impossible to care for themselves. The problem is that workers in some of these places get complacent, and let the elderly lie in one spot for days at a time until they get bed sores, or let them lay in their own excrement, or make them suffer in other ways just because it's too inconvenient to fulfill their needs. Unfortunately neither this technology nor any other is going to fix that.

Re:The problem... (1)

frozentier (1542099) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490580)

And apparently I didn't read the article close enough to realize they are talking about people in their homes.

Re:The problem... (5, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490790)

And also it isn't like the families don't try to do what they can, it simply gets overwhelming and you end up with no choice. I'm probably gonna have to send my mom to a home next week. I hate to do it, I really do, but she has fallen six times in 4 weeks, the last one cracked her head and the first one broke 6 ribs. You simply can't stay up 24/7 to watch them like a hawk and when it is just me and the two boys and the oldest is in college? As I said nobody can stay awake forever.

The biggest bitch is all the docs can tell me is what it isn't. It isn't her heart, her liver is working, etc. gee thanks, that really helps. It still doesn't explain why a 68 year old woman was perfectly fine, doing her own shopping, cooking her own meals, etc and then within 24 hours is having "spells" where she just rambles like a mad woman and when she walks sometimes it is like cutting the strings on a puppet. I mean no warning, no her legs are getting weak and giving out, I mean it literally looks like a ragdoll puppet that the strings were cut, she doesn't even make a sound or try to catch herself, she just takes a header.

Of course when she is having a spell you can't tell her she shouldn't try walking alone, that just makes her angry and along with the sudden personality switches and mood swings freaks the hell out of the boys especially after losing their mom to cancer in 07. Finally trying to deal with her affairs and keep the family home, that my oldest will end up dropping out of med school to try to keep because he'll be damned if he loses the home his grandpa built and the place where his mom grew up, while my GF is having to live 250 miles away because of HER elderly relative (her dad) having a heart attack so he can't be left alone, the stress is frankly driving me into an early grave. The lack of sleep and constantly trying to make ever more money while spending as much time with her as possible (because shit for the elderly sure as fuck ain't cheap) has got me eating aspirin by the handful to deal with the chest pains which is nothing but stress I'm sure. hell I cracked a tooth a few weeks back dragging a case down from a shelf and I can't even get the damned painful bitch fixed as I'm spending money like shit through a goose trying to keep her place and mine too.

So it isn't like most of us just want to dump our family on the state, we just end up without any choice in the matter. As I said docs don't have a fricking clue, we can't afford live in help so that we can actually sleep, and even as we speak she is in the hospital from her last fall so we can't just leave her be for a few hours because she will end up trying to go to the bathroom by herself and splitting her head open. So all I can do is hope the local nursing home doesn't suck, because with more than 25k owed on her house and trying to deal with everything else I just can't do anymore. A man can only stay awake for so long, ya know?

Re:The problem... (3, Insightful)

CptNerd (455084) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490974)

You need to get your mother to a neurologist ASAP. It sounds like she's having transient ischemic attacks, which some call "mini-strokes". My mom had them before she had her real strokes, including the one that ended her life. TIAs can cause all kinds of physical and mental problems, which pass as the brain manages to work around the minor damage, but which have cumulative effects.

I had to help my Mom take care of my Dad when he had Alzheimers, we managed to take care of him at home until almost the end, but it did get to the point where we couldn't handle the stress and the medical problems any more. We ended up putting him in a dismal hellhole of a "home" where he lasted about 3 months before the last medical emergency.

I never married and have no kids, so I'm used to living alone, but it sure would be nice to have things that can help me once I start getting to the point of needing help lifting or walking, or remembering, for example.

Re:The problem... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#36491218)

There are a number of other things in the differential of a rapidly declining mental status in a middle aged woman. But if Hairyfeet's mom hasn't seen a neurologist (or perhaps several including a visit to the academic neurologists at the local University) then that is certainly a good step. Unfortunately, we are reasonably good at telling you what disease you have and much worse at telling you anything useful on how to treat it.

The Central Nervous System is hard to understand. But there ARE a few disease processes that can be helped to some degree and having a diagnosis often helps caregivers (and the patient) understand what is happening a bit better.

Re:The problem... (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#36492526)

But wouldn't mini strokes show up in a CT or MRI? Because she has had those, blood work, you name it they have poked and prodded and basically are to the point of throwing darts at a dartboard. hell I don't blame the docs, they have run just about every damned thing they know to run, they just ain't finding squat.

The doc says "just to be safe" he is gonna treat her like she has a clot just in case there is one that has gotten by, but as I said her symptoms are just weird. like don't mini strokes cause them to shut down? When she is having one her her spells often she is just talking a mile a minute, it just don't make no damned sense. Then there is the bouts of just throwing up without warning, she says she doesn't even feel sick she just feels "off" and then it is just coming up like the exorcist, and then like I said there is the ragdoll falls. Hell I don't know, the docs don't know, nobody knows. One minute she is my mom and the next minute she isn't and it isn't like one of those slow onset kinda things this was just WHAM!

All I know is I'm dancing as fast as I can and the world keeps speeding up the music. Now I have got to figure out a way to keep her house without anyone working or bringing anything but me AND still feed myself and two boys AND figure out a way to take care of her and see my GF 185 miles away more than once every 3 months AND be able to do ALL that without fail, because my oldest nephew loves that damned house so much I'm willing to bet he'll give up med school to work some shitty job just to keep the thing since it has been in the family for so long and it is the place his late mother lived her whole life right up to the end.

I just don't see how in the hell to pull it all off and I sure as hell don't see how to pull it all off AND take care of her. Frankly the stress of the whole mess, coming so soon after they lost their mother, is damned near got us to the breaking point. It was like we just got the grieving done for their mother and everyone had finally started to move on, and then this shit hits. A man can only take so damned much ya know?

Re:The problem... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#36494366)

Sounds very, very odd. But for someone that young with such a panoply of symptoms, having someone else review the case carefully can (occasionally) find something useful or point to a diagnostic or treatment direction that isn't apparent. Obviously hard for me to say anything specific. The trick is figuring out who to send her to. That's where University Medical centers with their tendency towards sub sub specialization can be helpful. Her primary doc hopefully is plugged into the local system (or at least knows somebody who is). A good psychiatric evaluation (if not already done) might help as well. There is an uneasy overlap between psychiatry and neurology - they both evaluate brain function but they do so from very different viewpoints. There are many 'neurological' symptoms that have a psychiatric origin (with the understanding that all psychiatric issues are at some level neurological problems - one can get into useless semantical arguments).

Good luck.

Re:The problem... (1)

CptNerd (455084) | more than 2 years ago | (#36495106)

It really matters where in the brain the TIA occurs, and the harsh matter is, they most often don't leave a trace. Often the only way to really tell is by the symptoms, depending on what part or parts of the brain the TIA occurs.

I can definitely sympathize with what you're going through taking care of her. You're used to this person being able to do things for themselves, and even teaching you how to do things, only to have them become more and more helpless. It's a disturbing feeling, and don't be surprised to find yourself getting frustrated and angry at her at times. This is natural, just find a way to take a break for a short time, enough to cool down and try to understand. You will likely have to make decisions that won't sit well with family, but that's the way it goes, you have to consider what's best for the one hurting most. If you have to, see if you can find a neighbor or friend of hers that can come stay with her for a few hours, to give yourself time to rest, and to think. Even being able to take a nap to clear your head can do wonders.

Humans aren't made to take constant stress, and you can end up hurting yourself more (and being able to help less) if you don't make some time for yourself. Believe me, I know this from painful experience, taking care of a parent who is slowly (or like my father, rapidly) slipping away mentally and physically can tear up everything in your body. I was laid up for a couple of days in the hospital with what turned out to be gastritis but could easily have been an ulcer, while trying to take care of Dad. For me, going to church helped, and being able to talk out frustrations with others gave me the way of letting off steam which prevented my stomach from getting worse.

You need to find some outlet yourself, because frustration and helplessness can build on each other, and stress can cloud your judgement and make it seem like there are no solutions, when really the solutions are there if you have a rested mind to see them. Hang in there, you can make it, don't give up, get some rest and take some time to *not* think about the problems. It does work.

Re:The problem... (1)

Xacid (560407) | more than 2 years ago | (#36492666)

"Unfortunately, we are reasonably good at telling you what disease you have and much worse at telling you anything useful on how to treat it."

I think even if there are no treatment options, if a neurologist can figure out what's going on at least this person will know what they're up against. It's often easier to face a demon that has a name, in my limited experience.

I'm certainly no doctor but if everything else appears to be in working order I'd imagine the brain would be the best place to be looking at this stage as well. Also, the symptoms appear to fit w/ the "transient ischemic attacks" which put me on a tangent thought of wondering how effective crowd-sourcing diagnoses would be. But that's another story for another day.

Re:The problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36492164)

Love knows no bounds. Every man, woman, and child is a star. My empathy is with you.

Re:The problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36492906)

Yeah, that sure helps. Why not donate to the bastard if you're feeling sorry ;).

Re:The problem... (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 2 years ago | (#36492452)

There are many obscure diseases and sometimes it can be almost impossible for the best specialists to diagnose them in the best hospitals.

I assume you've taken your mother to one of the best academic hospitals in your area. It's worth spending the effort on a good diagnosis, if that can keep her out of a nursing home. But if you've done that, then you've done all you can do. Sometimes they just can't find the cause.

Re:The problem... (1)

RespekMyAthorati (798091) | more than 2 years ago | (#36492902)

It still doesn't explain why a 68 year old woman was perfectly fine, doing her own shopping, cooking her own meals, etc and then within 24 hours is having "spells" where she just rambles like a mad woman and when she walks sometimes it is like cutting the strings on a puppet. I mean no warning, no her legs are getting weak and giving out, I mean it literally looks like a ragdoll puppet that the strings were cut, she doesn't even make a sound or try to catch herself, she just takes a header.

Sounds exactly like my mother. Turned out she was having a form of cerebral ischemia called "microstrokes", which are so small that they don't show up on CAT scans, but over time made her weaker and weaker. Every time this happened, she went limp like a ragdoll, and a few seconds later was surprised to find herself on the floor.

she is in the hospital from her last fall so we can't just leave her be for a few hours because she will end up trying to go to the bathroom by herself and splitting her head open.

While in hospital my mother did go to the bathroom herself, did fall, did split her head open. Two days later, she died. Maybe is was her time.

Re:The problem... (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#36491196)

Even good workers aren't telepathic. More tools in the toolbox give more ways to get the job done.

Lack of use or misuse is another issue.

What a load of crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36490618)

I have had 3 grandparents live into their mid 90s. Living with others is what helped them. All this technology crap is HORRIBLE. Children need to take care of their parents and give back. This is the worst application of technology, ever.

Re:What a load of crap (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#36491204)

In many cases there are no offspring to do the job. Not everyone has massive extended families. GOOD nursing homes where they can interact with peers can be better than some families.

I'd rather run out the clock in a good VA home with other ex-G.I.s. I've visited a couple which had HAPPY residents who were articulate and didn't mind expressing themselves.

'aging in place' is cheaper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36490624)

I'm not so sure. A single senior living in a single family home strikes me as much more expensive than that same single senior living in an apartment or condominium which is smaller, requires less maintenance inside and outside the building, benefits from economies of scale, helps provide a more social scene for those seniors, often provides more services which don't require driving, etc.

Know what's even cheaper? Moving back in with a child. Multigenerational homes can often allow for even more efficient living, and more attentive care for the senior. It's true that many communities in tUSA don't allow a single family home's basement (or other area) to be converted into a full apartment, but that's a different problem we as a society should think about tackling.

Individuals living in single family homes is extremely expensive for society and for the individual. The summary's implication that the two choices are to live in the house you raised your family in or to move to a nursing home as the only two options is an incomplete listing of choice.

Re:'aging in place' is cheaper? (2)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490898)

The problem with multigenerational homes, is that the elderly often feel they have right to control the life of their adult children.

Re:'aging in place' is cheaper? (2)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#36491154)

The problem with multigenerational homes, is that the elderly often feel they have right to control the life of their adult children.

Same goes when the elderly aren't at home. That's a pretty large reason their adult children don't visit. It seems to be difficult for parents to treat their children as responsible adults, regardless of their absolute age.

Re:'aging in place' is cheaper? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#36491216)

Caregiving for seniors is often MUCH more than a full-time job even for smart, clueful and motivated people.

There are many choices, so research them to get the best outcome.

subject (2)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490646)

If your children are only visiting you because they're afraid you might be dead, you need better children.

On the flip side, if they're only visiting because they're hoping you're dead, you should have been a better parent.

Re:subject (2)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#36491310)

If your children are only visiting you because they're afraid you might be dead, you need better children.

Easy to say. In reality, people often live thousands of miles from their parents, the decline of old age takes decades, and the "kids" are middle-aged and dealing with divorces, troubled teens, illness, unemployment - all the usual junk that derails up the life we envisioned.

retirement home !=nursing home (1)

johncandale (1430587) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490682)

There is a places between a nursing home and living alone. lots Retirement homes with different lvls of care and service. A lot of them allow people to eat or cook alone or when no longer able to eat in the common rooms. A lot of people are really happy there ( a lot hate it too) and often there are even in outdoor bunglow type apartments

We have prolonged life but not the quality of life, and this tech does not address this. A dying process that used to take 2 months is now drawn out for 2 years costing untold piles of money and untold extra grief and pain for the patient and the family.

Does anyone else feel this tech is super creepy and sounds more like a testing ground for Orwellian type monitoring? I mean there is no reason a government couldn't say this tech that watch's everything you eat and every time you leave the house and all your movement in your own house ever your gait wouldn't give a 29 year old extra safety too?? creepy

even if it's true this is cheaper then a retirement home today; whatever it costs, it will cost less putting this tech into a retirement home on scale (also reusable without being moved) so that argument is false

Re:retirement home !=nursing home (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36491078)

There is a places between a nursing home and living alone. lots Retirement homes with different lvls of care and service. A lot of them allow people to eat or cook alone or when no longer able to eat in the common rooms. A lot of people are really happy there ( a lot hate it too) and often there are even in outdoor bunglow type apartments
We have prolonged life but not the quality of life, and this tech does not address this. A dying process that used to take 2 months is now drawn out for 2 years costing untold piles of money and untold extra grief and pain for the patient and the family.

1) Almost all retirement/nursing homes/communities have highly differing levels of care. This is not a particularly new thing. My grandparents moved into a retirement condo and then 15 years later upgraded to assisted living (and 2 years later upgraded a level within that).

2) Quality of life is not improved? I STRONGLY disagree and would wonder how you can say that. My grandmother is currently 90+ and would have died probably 10+ years ago without modern treatments. In the last 5 years macular degeneration has made her virtually blind but between fancy lift chairs, assistive toilets, scooters (before she was blind), walkers that are far more capable than the old shufflers-with-tennis-balls, books to tape, wrist buttons for calling for help, etc, she has a pretty darn god quality of life considering she can't walk and can't see.

Am I looking forward to that stage of my life? Hell no. But she gets to see her great-grandchildren every week or two, and despite her physical condition can eat in a dining room, see other people regularly, etc. I think that's a huge improvement over what she would have faced 20-30 years ago. She isn't ready to go yet. Hard to judge when you'll reach that point. Your views might change when you're that age -- or they might not.

3) You're right about the cost. Taking care of people is expensive. Reasonably high-end assistive care can cost thousands a month.

Not new, but still good (1)

cshbell (931989) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490708)

This technology isn't particularly new -- telehealth has been around in some forms for a few decades, but it's definitely taking off now.

One of the benefits not mentioned is that, in addition to 'remote monitoring,' telehealth services generate a huge amount of useful data for clinicians. Our telehealth program collects weight, blood pressure, pulse, and (for diabetic patients) blood sugar readings daily. It takes less than five minutes for the patient to do these tests.

In turn, their physician and care team have daily medical data, and can detect subtle changes much more quickly than a weekly nurse visit or occasional office visits. The only other setting where you have daily vitals monitoring is an in-patient hospital or care facility; now we can have it in people's houses. And the patients generally love it -- they feel a sense of security knowing that their health is being monitored.

High tech care relative to human care (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490826)

High tech care may be a mixed blessing, but what we do know for certain is that human care will get worse. The ratio of working population to retirees will change a lot over the next 30 years, Already nurses and home aid are on the stop watch, you can't make it that much more effective to matter. Meanwhile a lot of the industry has gone from making a thousand to a million units with robots, automation and computers. A gadget will be getting cheaper and cheaper while human time gets more and more expensive. Politicians can lie as much as they like but looking at the fundamentals you see that it is inevitable.

Roujin Z (2)

Drathos (1092) | more than 2 years ago | (#36490858)

Upon seeing the headline, my first thought was of Roujin Z [wikipedia.org].

I guess that's for when they can't get by on their own and simple monitoring won't do.

Please ... (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#36491110)

... an alarm to warn the neighborhood when grandpa fires up his Cadillac.

Re:Please ... (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#36491252)

... an alarm to warn the neighborhood when grandpa fires up his Cadillac.

Just remove the muffler.

Re:Please ... (1)

turtledawn (149719) | more than 2 years ago | (#36493550)

pull a fuse and also partially detach a spark cable boot on the generator end. If he shouldn't be driving, he'll either be too blind to notice it missing, won't think to look for it, or will forget what he was doing under the hood by the time he gets it open or at least gets one of them fixed. I'd suggest that it's safest legally if the car is in your name or a joint title.

Or, you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36491118)

We could try to actually understand what causes aging and maybe reverse it? But that seems like it's way too complex and over the head of our so-called advanced technological society. We can't do space because it's too big, and we can't do life because it's too small. All we're good at is planes, trains, automobiles and computers. Jesus H Christ where IS all this technology I keep hearing about? An app on my iPhone? A fucking picture on a screen? That's it?

Ugh! (1)

chucklebutte (921447) | more than 2 years ago | (#36491366)

Why are we keeping these douche bag baby boomer idiots alive any longer? Their "doing it their way" BS is the reason this country is in shambles! Fuck old people.

Re:Ugh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36492646)

Yeah! Carousel! Carousel!

Cheaper than a good nursing home (1)

phleb3 (954280) | more than 2 years ago | (#36491476)

This is a good idea for people that are close to having to go to a nursing home. The monitoring system will show when they can't take care of themselves any more. This could be months or even years. A good nursing home costs an arm and a leg and your first born child, while staying home is much cheaper, and a small victory every day. What ever they are going to charge for monitoring is still less than a good nursing home.

Downsides? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36491856)

" But there is the downside, as some experts on the aging population worry that making it easier for elderly people to stay in their homes could reduce the incentive for children to visit or could create a false sense that technology can foresee every problem and address every need.""

Since when is caring for your elderly parents an incentive to see them?
Also, there is already a false sense among the population that nursing homes can foresee every problem and address every need... at least with technology we're getting much closer to making that a reality than the current situation ever could approach

Continuous Analytics - MEDgle (1)

ashdamle (1419349) | more than 2 years ago | (#36492460)

Part of the reason we started MEDgle ( http://www.medgle.com/ [medgle.com] ) was to help make sense of all the data that is (EHRs) and will be (sensors) generated. The huge amount of data generated needs to be analyzed and prioritized before being presented to caregivers. At MEDgle, our focus is to enable scalable health by facilitating the distribution of care tasks to the most cost effective individual while ensuring quality of care through real-time clinical intelligence. Though as the article points out there is a risk of over dependance. The question, is how to achieve balance that provides the best outcomes. Feedback, thoughts, etc are very welcome! Cheers Ash disclaimer (I'm the CEO of the company)

Or we could... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36492664)

Just let them pass... so much resources wasted on things that we're about to throw away anyhow. I'm about to turn 30 but make no mistake I know when my useful time is up. I should be able to take care of myself without burdening society or my children

Re:Or we could... (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#36495732)

Just let them pass... so much resources wasted on things that we're about to throw away anyhow. I'm about to turn 30 but make no mistake I know when my useful time is up.

That would be about now, Logan.

Re:Or we could... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36496272)

Noticed you only replied to part of the above. Anon has a point though -- anyone having babies over the age of 40 should be shot. Why burden your kids with having to take care of you just as they're starting their lives?

Help me, Slashdot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36492872)

I've fallen and I can't get up!

I wish the problems were purely physical... (1)

drjoe1e6 (461358) | more than 2 years ago | (#36495188)

... and could be solved by a high-tech, or even a bunch of low-tech, devices. But electronic monitoring can only go so far.

If the elderly person cannot interpret what they are told by a screen (or a disembodied voice reading it), a human caregiver must be present. In a timely manner. _Every time_. A familiar son or daughter over the phone is not enough for someone with a form of dementia, or a case of Just Plain Stubborn. There is no substitute for being there.

As many commenters pointed out, eldercare will be monumental challenge for the next couple decades. Nursing homes, assisted living, and group homes will clearly evolve, as there will be more folks who need care, and fewer who can provide it.

Thoughts from a Nurse... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36495270)

As a nurse who has dealt with these issues a LOT, a few points to make.
*Electronics will never replace human beings, they supplement them. Monitors can tell you some things, but nothing replaces someone who knows an elder looking and talking and ensuring that they "look ok". Current technology is not nearly accurate enough to ensure anyone's health, machines are too picky and have to be placed "just right", broken phone line bolluxes all your telehealth technology, batteries fail, and elders get tired of the annoying electronics and unplug stuff.
*Neither electronic monitoring, home health nurses, nursing homes, nor family in the home is going to prevent an elder from falling. Moving them from home alone to a facility simply ensures that someone who is falling frequently will be found sooner, there is no magic about a nursing home that prevents falls. On a related note BEDRAILS ARE EVIL - elders break arms and legs by getting them stuck through the rails and then falling from bed. They climb over the rails and land on their heads rather than sliding from bed onto the floor as they would do otherwise. They even get their restraints partially untied and hang themselves by climbing bedrails and falling. Bedrails are never an answer to keep a loved one from falling, half rails are used to help them move themselves in the bed.
*SAVE MONEY NOW - there is no magical fund out there that is going to take care of you when you are too old to take care of yourself. If you are sick enough to need nursing care, medicare will pay for a limited amount of time in a skilled nursing bed, if you are dying they will pay for hospice. If you have spent all your money and are completely broke, medicaid in some states will put you up in a medicaid funded facility or private home. Most of these are not where you would want to spend your final days, trust me.
*If you are needing to choose a facility to care for a family member who cannot care for themselves, use the "sniff test". Visit the facility unannounced on a weekend (avoid mealtimes if you can) and walk down the hall using your nose. If it smells like people are unwashed and unchanged, choose a different place. And another good rule is that if you have a family member in a home, those that have frequent (and unpredictable) family visits get the best care. When I visited patients in facilities they never knew when the nurse was going to show up and so my patients were getting much more frequent checks and care than those who did not have visitors. And when you are there be sure to check the BM log. Sounds gross but is vitally important. Constipation and bowel impaction is a huge problem in elders who cannot easily make their needs known or care for themselves, somebody needs to be paying attention.
*And remember each time that Congress starts making noises about cutting programs for healthcare that this is going to directly affect YOU when your elderly parent needs care. You are responsible as next of kin, and failure to care for a dependent elder is a criminal offense. This also affects the care you will be able to receive when the time comes and you need help. Nobody plans on needing care when they get older, but most everyone does. The choices you make now have a direct affect on how that will look.

nursing home vs. actual home (1)

danielpauldavis (1142767) | more than 2 years ago | (#36495272)

The problem will be what we had to decide about my dad when he started getting up in the middle of the night and walking to wherever his senile dementia, poisoned by aluminum dust brain thought he was going. Literally, we had to lock him up for his own safety.

Next Generation Solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36496044)

This is progress, progress that will be helping people as well. There's everything right about evolving from "I've fallen and I can't get up" to the best of technology to help our loved ones. Independence is no minor desire, and lack of it is no minor disaster, from an emotional and financial perspective. Technology should be the first line of defense to help the elderly stay at home longer, safer and more comfortably.

And apart from the positive benefit technology will be providing the elderly and their family caregivers, it will help our country if it allows the medical cost of care to be reduced by even a small amount -- which it will. But solutions can't be "medical", expensive, patronizing, big brotherish ... to the contrary, the solutions that will work the best and deployed the most will the ones who are fully integrated, have as much a social connectivity component as they do a health and safety one. Easy to use, fun and engaging ... extending our broken sickcare system via big corporate and expensive medical devices is not the answer. The real answer is via consumer-centric solutions.

"I've fallen and I can't get up" ... but integration across multiple solutions, and brought forward into the 21st century!

Kian Saneii.

Old Glory Insurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36496250)

When I get to that ripe age, I plan to stay up with my Old Glory Robot insurance... so that I can be well protected when the metal ones come for me...

How about phone or console? (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 2 years ago | (#36497020)

I don't think we need THAT much tech in grandmas house... Simply because it wouldn't work. On the other hand, something like an iPhone has more than enough capability to monitor health and emergency status with built in sensors and a few attachments. I liked the idea of using a Wii in that manner too.

My grandmother lived to 90's. The BIG factor was being in her home and access to prompt help. "minor" injuries are what "kill" most old people. A broken bone or untreated sore turns into multiple surgeries and "being in a hospital" is what gets them in a slow death spiral. Throw in monitoring meds and chronic conditions like pacemakers or diabeties and you could cut 50% of care costs. Ultimately, being SOCIAL is what keeps most old people going. Having someplace to GO every few days, people to see keeps them getting up and taking care of themselves.

Smart money would be on bluetooth connected devices ... Monitors, O2 tanks, testing meters... And tie those to something cheap like a Wii or iPhone(ish) devices. Brand small things to work together and you have a winner. Heck, iPhones have 2-way video features now... Now grandma can SHOW where she's fallen and can't get up. It would be trivial to build an "old people friendly" device with some goofy robot OS but all the same hardware.

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